Monday Morning Message 4.12.21 Spotlight Edition: Our Appellate Practice Clinic

Posted 2021-04-12 9:42am

"I wanted to work on real cases in the Clinic, assisting real clients and learning the ins and outs of appellate lawyering. This case wound up being so much more than that, going beyond what I hoped to experience in the Clinic." – Jared Thompson ’22  Appellate Practice Clinic Secures Victory in Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

 "Working closely with an experienced practitioner in handling this appeal has taught me much about the appellate process and what practical representation looks like." – Jed Chedid ’20  Appellate Practice Clinic Students Successful In Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals  

“It is not unusual for a judge to come to the bench, having read all the briefs, with a clear idea of what the judgment ought to be but for one missing fact, or but for one possible legal obstacle. If the judge can get you to concede that fact, or to concede a point that would make that legal obstacle irrelevant, the opinion is all but written. You should not cooperate in your own destruction.” Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, by Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner


Starting with this edition of the Monday Morning Message, at least once each month I will shine a spotlight on the outstanding work of one of our programs, centers, courses, special initiatives, student organizations, student journals, faculty, staff, students, or alumni.

One of the greatest experiences of my life was the opportunity to clerk for the late Judge Paul C. Weick, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, after graduating from law school. I read hundreds of well-written briefs and heard many persuasive oral arguments from some of the best lawyers in the country and came to value the critical importance of appellate advocacy in the pursuit of justice.

Our C|M|LAW Appellate Practice Clinic was launched in 2018, under the supervision of Clinical Professor of Law Doron Kalir. Since its creation, the Appellate Clinic has successfully represented under-privileged clients on a number of appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Here are some examples:

In Rodriguez-Penton v. United States, 905 F.3d 481 (6th Cir. 2018), our Clinic was appointed to represent a Cuban immigrant who was arrested on several drug-related charges. The district court denied his Habeas motion, and he appealed. Our Clinic students had to wrestle with several research projects, including on issues related to “crimigration,” (the legal intersection between criminal law and immigration), plea bargains, ineffective-assistance-of-counsel standards, and more. The Sixth Circuit accepted in full our Clinic’s claims, and reversed the decision below. The Court noted that “the legal landscape for such claims has changed in material ways, especially in the context of non-citizens faced with criminal charges. Because the district court applied the wrong analytical framework, we reverse and remand.”

In another Sixth Circuit case, the students researched the issue of double-jeopardy. Again, agreeing with our Clinic, the Court vacated the decision below and remanded for further proceedings.

Most recently, in a gateway-innocence-claim case, students were presented with a truly strange conundrum: The law requires state prisoners who file innocence claims to present “new evidence” before the state court that judged them; they must do so before presenting the same evidence in federal court as part of their Habeas claims. But when the Clinic’s client tried to do just that, the district court judge informed him that the evidence he presented was no longer “new,” as they were already presented in the state courts. Accepting the Clinic’s claims in full, the Sixth Circuit reversed once again, explaining that the district court “erred in reaching that conclusion.”

In class, each student is tasked with reading and presenting a chapter from Scalia & Garner’s Making Your Case. In addition, at the end of the semester, students present oral arguments of their cases in front of their peers, while some of them act as Appellate Judges.

This semester students were fortunate to enjoy guest lectures from some of the best voices in appellate practice. For example, students heard from Judge Patricia A. Blackmon ‘75 of the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals, who recently retired from the bench and now serves as a C|M|LAW Jurist-in-Residence, from stellar alums Susan Audey ‘93 and Andrew Kabat ‘94; from Professor Andrew Pollis of Case Law School, and Professor Michael Gentites of Akron Law School; and from noted appellate practitioners Win Allen (Kirkland & Ellis) and David Mills (The Mills Law Office).  

Our Appellate Clinic is currently dealing with another complex Sixth Circuit case, and, together with Professor Joe Mead, is preparing an Amicus Brief with the United States Supreme Court.

Thanks to Professor Doron Kalir, the experience our students receive in our Appellate Practice Clinic is another example of how we prepare our graduates to be practice-ready.

 Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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My best,


Lee Fisher

Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law
1801 Euclid Avenue, LB 138 |Cleveland, Ohio 44115 -2214
216-687-2300 |


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